American Literature 2
April 5, 2014
The Insane Asylum Nurse
Looking back on the events of my work, I feel regretful. Things have changed very much since the 1920s. They called us nuns and sisters, but we were not Godly. When I became a sister at age 21 and started working at the giant castle known as the Winchester Mental Asylum, I knew it would be hard work. I also knew that God had called me to the work, but it was nothing like normal Christians. They were called to help the people in need, and the patients in the asylum were not seen as people. They needed to be housed, and we believed God called us to contain and hide away the mental illnesses. The rooms and cells were overcrowded and we did not have enough food or clothes for everyone. Most of the patients were hungry and naked every day. On the most normal days, abuse and neglect happened around every corner in the ancient castle walls that made up the asylum.
Every day was just a repeat of the day before, and April 8th 1926 was no exception. I woke up in a long white nightgown next to a hundred other nuns in beds lined across a long room. I changed into my habit, a tunic held at the waist by a belt. Then, pulling my scapula and veil over my head, I stepped out the door and through the metal bars into the patient’s asylum. Mass was held at this time in the back chapel by Father Francis, also the doctor, a huge grey man with the knowledge of all the creative ways he could punish the patients and help community. Patients were frightened by him, and rumors of terrible torture and practices danced around the walls. After mass,my job was to pass out pills in tiny paper cups and make sure they were swallowed. When they refused, they were restrained. The patients wandered around one big room with music playing, but it was drowned out by the frustrated groans of people unable to communicate. Some of them cried and told us over and over that they didn’t belong here, but if...
Cited: “Adventures in American Literature.” Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1996. Print.
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